Every company or organization has a culture, which either works for you or against you and it can make the difference between success and failure. Simply put, organizational culture is the way people think and act. Either you will manage your culture to deliver the desired results, or it will manage you and undermine your attempts to get the results (customer focus, diversity, regulatory compliance, growth, quality, productivity and profitability) you want. When the culture is not working, it poses a formidable obstacle to achieving results.
Initiating any culture building activity or process begins with clearly stating the key results to be achieved. In today’s volatile and uncertain economic environment, current business models might not continue to deliver the desired business results and need to change. There is need to get alignment around key results in several areas of performance and then consciously maintain it throughout the organization. Alignment will avoid senior management sending their organization mixed messages and start communicating the same key results to everyone in a compelling way. If there is alignment, employees are able to connect the dots between their daily work and the key results they need to achieve.
Clear results lead to clear action. However, many senior managers often fail to communicate what they really mean in terms of key results. Achieving key results requires a culture change. By definition, a result is key if the current culture cannot produce the thoughts and actions throughout the organization critical to achieving it. It is therefore crucial for management to determine in advance if the desired results are really key or just mere results. To help them do this, they can use the following four criteria
- Difficulty: If the desired result utilizes more effort to achieve compared to previous results, then the result is key and will require you to make significant changes to some parts of your organizational culture. Difficulty may arise as a result of tougher objectives, similar objectives in a tougher business environment or tougher objectives in a tougher environment.
- Direction: If the desired results signal a significant change in the direction for the organization (introducing new products, new markets entry, exiting old markets, applying new technology, acquiring new companies and new strategies implementation), this also indicates key results which may also necessitate a major cultural shift.
- Deployment: If the desired results require a large-scale deployment or redeployment of people or other resources, this requires a significant cultural change and a new way of thinking about how to get things done to ensure the success of the organization, triggering key results.
- Development: If the desired result demands the organization to develop new capabilities or core competencies, then the result is of a key nature. Developing new competencies requires significant changes in mind-sets that justify major cultural shifts.
Closing Thoughts: In order to speed up culture change, everyone in the organization must focus on achieving key results. This means getting each and every person in the culture loop aligned with the desired results. When there is clear communication top-down about the results to be achieved, employees will be able to align their beliefs and actions and ultimately drive performance improvements. Without alignment of experiences, beliefs, actions and results; strategy implementations will fail, cross-functional teams will not get along and always compete, communication becomes less effective and the desired results seem a huge mountain to climb. A more powerfully aligned culture will more effectively, efficiently and consistently focus on results. The more consistently people do focus on results; the more likely they will be able to create the desired or needed culture capable of producing those results.